How freelancers can maximize their time without sacrificing quality of life.
Freelancers are busy people. The self-employed are likely busier than those who work for another boss. Not only do we have to get our projects completed by deadlines, we also have to take care of the business end of things like paperwork, bills, and bookkeeping. On top of that we also have lives that include taking care of family, doing housework, and going grocery shopping. It can be incredibly hard to find time to pursue self-care and personal projects.
A work-life balance can be difficult to find, especially for those of us who don’t outsource our bookkeeping or have people with whom to share the labour at home. Here are some suggestions.
Make an appointment with yourself. You need an hour a day to read, work out, watch streaming media, or listen to music? Choose a time and put it in your schedule, just like any other appointment. Except this one is with yourself.
Time management skills. Some of us got into bad habits when we were in school and would cram the night before an exam or write an entire essay the day before it was due. We need to pace ourselves on our work projects and be sure that we are setting deadlines with clients that are realistic, and won’t require us to burn the midnight oil for days or weeks on end. Take personal time into account when planning your schedule.
Learn to say no. When we work for ourselves in this gig economy, it’s hard to say no when an opportunity presents itself. However, if we say yes to everything, then we’re saying no to ourselves. Be discerning when it comes to social invitations, events, and meetings. You don’t have to accept every invitation that comes your way.
Know when to ask for help. Freelancers often have other freelancers for friends and colleagues. If work is piling high, and you can afford to, subcontract. If someone offers you a job that it would not be in your best interests to take due to time constraints and other commitments, recommend someone else. Not only will it help you focus on your imminent deadlines and personal needs, but you might get a reputation in the freelance community for sharing the love — and it might be returned.
Have fun while you work. One of the benefits of working independently is that you’re in your own space, setting your own rules. Want to listen to music while you work? Take your laptop to a cafe so you can get out of the house? Take a break any time you want? You can do that!
If you are looking for a way to build your professional network, joining the Canadian Freelance Union (a community chapter of Unifor, Canada’s largest private-sector union) is a great way to connect with other freelancers to share experiences, leads, and resources. The CFU also advocates for our members when it comes to getting paid, offers group rates on insurance, and gives freelancers a voice in the labour movement.
Paula E. Kirman is the Prairie Regional Director with the Canadian Freelance Union.